Train to nowhere

An aerial photograph taken last week shows a construction site of a section of a tourist-train project in Mexico's Playa del Carmen in the state of Quintana Roo.

The construction of Section 5 of the Mayan Train, which will go between the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum, has been suspended by a district judge due to a lack of studies on the project's environmental impact.

A group of environmentalists and cave enthusiasts had brought the case to court, arguing that the construction of Section 5 would harm the jungle it will run through and the network of caves which lies beneath it.

Building work would result in the cutting down of trees, the destruction of flora and native species, and damage the cave system, which has been created over millions of years.

Environmentalists point out that caves are home to animals - such as bats and blind cavefish - and are also places of refuge for jaguars, which go there to drink water.

The Mayan Train project aims to build a 1,500km-long railroad linking popular Caribbean beach resorts and archaeological ruins.

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has argued that it would provide an environmentally friendly mode of transport for locals and tourists, as well as boost development and employment in the underdeveloped region.

But critics say the mega-project has been rushed and environmental concerns have been overridden.

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